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The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:14 am UTC
by morriswalters
Interesting article in Esquire . Early Neurosurgical patient who had most of his hippocampus removed to treat epilepsy and lost the ability to create new memories.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:28 am UTC
by CorruptUser
Oh dear god, why do doctors even suggest these surgeries?

"Hmm, let's remove his testicles to cure his chronic masturbation!" "Hmm, if we remove this girl's clitoris, she won't become a tramp!" "Hmm, if we stab the brain a bit, that should make him/her less annoying to us!"

If these weren't actual examples (the second one is still practiced in Africa/Middle East), well, I don't know what to say. Honestly, operations like these only make me think that Human Centipede was based on a true story.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:43 am UTC
by mmmcannibalism
You should differentiate bad surgical idea based on bad medicine from horrendous cultural practice.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:25 am UTC
by CorruptUser
So we have two groups of bad ideas. Bad ideas from bad science, and bad ideas from bad superstition/mysticism.

(edit: ninja'd)

You would think the bad idea from bad science is better, in that you can reason with the person, but have you ever tried to reason with someone that believes in new-age medicine? Have you ever tried to calmly explain to a 911-truther (or moon-faker or dino-denier or birther) the flaws in their claims? I've met devoutly religious people with more reasoning capability than any conspiracy <pejorative> I've met.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:28 am UTC
by mmmcannibalism
CorruptUser wrote:So we have two groups of bad ideas. Bad ideas from bad science, and bad ideas from bad superstition/mysticism.


Now tell me; which one of those was far more willing to change when they realized it didn't work?

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:41 am UTC
by Diadem
CorruptUser wrote:So we have two groups of bad ideas. Bad ideas from bad science, and bad ideas from bad superstition/mysticism.

Well, that is hardly surprising. Either you got your facts wrong, or you got your morals wrong. That's all the flavours there are.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:30 am UTC
by Rinsaikeru
CorruptUser wrote:So we have two groups of bad ideas. Bad ideas from bad science, and bad ideas from bad superstition/mysticism.

(edit: ninja'd)

You would think the bad idea from bad science is better, in that you can reason with the person, but have you ever tried to reason with someone that believes in new-age medicine? Have you ever tried to calmly explain to a 911-truther (or moon-faker or dino-denier or birther) the flaws in their claims? I've met devoutly religious people with more reasoning capability than any conspiracy <pejorative> I've met.



What precisely do any of those have to do with science? None of them rely on scientifically rigorous testing or process.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:48 am UTC
by Shivahn
CorruptUser wrote:Oh dear god, why do doctors even suggest these surgeries?


Sometimes it's because people are suffering from grand mal epileptic fits.

It's not like they took a perfectly healthy person and advised brain surgery.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:16 am UTC
by CorruptUser
Rinsaikeru wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:So we have two groups of bad ideas. Bad ideas from bad science, and bad ideas from bad superstition/mysticism.

(edit: ninja'd)

You would think the bad idea from bad science is better, in that you can reason with the person, but have you ever tried to reason with someone that believes in new-age medicine? Have you ever tried to calmly explain to a 911-truther (or moon-faker or dino-denier or birther) the flaws in their claims? I've met devoutly religious people with more reasoning capability than any conspiracy <pejorative> I've met.



What precisely do any of those have to do with science? None of them rely on scientifically rigorous testing or process.


They are examples of ideas from "bad" science. In particular, the reverse scientific method; start with conclusion, find evidence.

Conspiracy theorists will think up an idea, and due to many factors from this whole list, they will believe the conspiracy to exist. Then, they will search for any evidence, no matter how circumstantial, do little if any investigation into anything that might contradict the evidence, and pronounce themselves superior to you, because they figured out the truth and you haven't/can't.

For example, remember Loose Change? You should check out the Loose Change Guide. Yes, I found it through Maddox.

"Good" science, or more simply, science, involves the Scientific Method; gather the evidence, test your hypothesis, and so forth. This is where Philosophy is most useful, in that understanding philosophy will help you become aware of any biases you may have or encounter.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:18 am UTC
by LaserGuy
I hope the doctors are planning on taking this individual to see Momento as soon as humanly possible.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:20 am UTC
by BoomFrog
LaserGuy wrote:I hope the doctors are planning on taking this individual to see Momento as soon as humanly possible.


He watches it every day. It's his new favorite movie every time.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:43 am UTC
by jestingrabbit
LaserGuy wrote:I hope the doctors are planning on taking this individual to see Momento as soon as humanly possible.


Yes. The doctors from 1953 who did this surgery then went and got the guy a ticket to a film in theatres in 2000.

And whilst some brain surgery of that era was ethically wrong (lobotomies were done with a callous disregard of the patients best interests), in this case the surgeon knew where the patients seizures were being initiated and decided to take an action to try to prevent those life endangering seizures. This wasn't a mad scientist "lets poke it to see what happens" moment. It was a reasonable surgical intervention that stopped the guy having seizures. It had extreme negative consequences, but I doubt the surgeon sat back wondering what he could trick his next patient into having removed.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:20 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
BoomFrog wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:I hope the doctors are planning on taking this individual to see Momento as soon as humanly possible.


He watches it every day. It's his new favorite movie every time.
Well, at least the first half hour.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:49 pm UTC
by EdgarJPublius
There's a difference between 'bad' science, and science that turns out to have bad consequences.

When the doctors cut into Mr. Molaison's brain, they didn't know that it would effect his memory so profoundly, and what's more, before this surgery was undertaken they couldn't have known.
Sure, it's easy to say now that 'obviously, they were cutting into the dude's brain, they were gonna hit something he needed, I mean, it's the frickin' brain!'
But in 1953 no such understanding existed, and in fact, this surgery is largely responsible for the modern understanding about how the different parts of the brain work together and how you can't really just go cutting and expect not to nick something necessary

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:53 pm UTC
by BoomFrog
jestingrabbit wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:I hope the doctors are planning on taking this individual to see Momento as soon as humanly possible.


Yes. The doctors from 1953 who did this surgery then went and got the guy a ticket to a film in theatres in 2000.

And whilst some brain surgery of that era was ethically wrong (lobotomies were done with a callous disregard of the patients best interests), in this case the surgeon knew where the patients seizures were being initiated and decided to take an action to try to prevent those life endangering seizures. This wasn't a mad scientist "lets poke it to see what happens" moment. It was a reasonable surgical intervention that stopped the guy having seizures. It had extreme negative consequences, but I doubt the surgeon sat back wondering what he could trick his next patient into having removed.

First of all, it was a joke. Second of all:
The article wrote:other surgeons have had success reducing seizures by removing one half of it [the hippocampus], performing a so-called unilateral resection. With Henry, however, he decides to see what happens if he takes out both sides, not just one.

...

The operation is, as he will later write, a "frankly experimental" one

It wasn't exactly careful science. The man needed help and was desperate, but the surgeon was using this opportunity to also further his research, at the patient's risk. Certainly there are more facts that we don't know of, but why not remove only half of the hippocampus first and see the results on his seizures?

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:33 pm UTC
by jestingrabbit
My post was mostly a response to corrupt user acting like this guy was some sort of monster, but Laser Guy's comment just seemed like a good jumping off point for my snark. Yeah, the surgeon was being experimental, but that's kinda the nature of medicine. Medicine isn't exactly a science even at the best of times. There is never a control, afterall.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:12 pm UTC
by Shivahn
The article, so far as I can tell, is extremely misleading. The reason the operation was bilateral was that the fits were originating from both lobes.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:38 pm UTC
by EdgarJPublius
Yea, Whatever the article says, I seriously doubt that an experienced and respected surgeon just decided to try a new procedure because he was feeling a bit risky that day.
Although the article glosses over it, Dr. Scoville did in fact inform Mr. Molaison that this was an untested procedure.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:58 pm UTC
by Aikanaro
CorruptUser wrote:Oh dear god, why do doctors even suggest these surgeries?

"Hmm, let's remove his testicles to cure his chronic masturbation!" "Hmm, if we remove this girl's clitoris, she won't become a tramp!" "Hmm, if we stab the brain a bit, that should make him/her less annoying to us!"

If these weren't actual examples (the second one is still practiced in Africa/Middle East), well, I don't know what to say. Honestly, operations like these only make me think that Human Centipede was based on a true story.

I wiki'd that movie just because of you. I hate you now, and hope horrible things happen to you though not quite as horrible as the things in that movie.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:35 am UTC
by morriswalters
I feel like a dunce. I pointed to the article because is was an interesting look at how we learn even from mistakes, and in this case, how the mistake gave hints to questions still being probed today. :oops:

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:44 pm UTC
by VDOgamez
morriswalters wrote:I feel like a dunce. I pointed to the article because is was an interesting look at how we learn even from mistakes, and in this case, how the mistake gave hints to questions still being probed today. :oops:

I'm pretty certain that Mr. Molaison doesn't learn from mistakes anymore... :roll:

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:31 pm UTC
by Sizik
VDOgamez wrote:
morriswalters wrote:I feel like a dunce. I pointed to the article because is was an interesting look at how we learn even from mistakes, and in this case, how the mistake gave hints to questions still being probed today. :oops:

I'm pretty certain that Mr. Molaison doesn't learn from mistakes anymore... :roll:


Especially since he died in 2008..

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:06 pm UTC
by ameretrifle
I'm sorry, but this has been driving me nuts for days. Am I missing some obvious reference, or don't you mean "Memento"? Like the movie, right?

Also, I'm pretty sure by "learning from mistakes" the poster was referring to the medical community... not that I should be telling you not to be pedants... XD

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:33 pm UTC
by Dark Knight Bob
CorruptUser wrote:Oh dear god, why do doctors even suggest these surgeries?

"Hmm, let's remove his testicles to cure his chronic masturbation!" "Hmm, if we remove this girl's clitoris, she won't become a tramp!" "Hmm, if we stab the brain a bit, that should make him/her less annoying to us!"

If these weren't actual examples (the second one is still practiced in Africa/Middle East), well, I don't know what to say. Honestly, operations like these only make me think that Human Centipede was based on a true story.


This kind of thing is not done by some kind of imaginary frank-stein surgeons anymore. This was done back in 1950 odd

This is no longer 1950 though, where we now know what epilepsy is.

The key issue here is that epilepsy is not ONE single disease anymore than CANCER is. Every case has some unique aspect to it affecting different parts of the brain.

The man in question was having SO MANY fits and SO OFTEN that to leave him that way even with drug treatment would not have given him a life at all. People just didn't know how to treat it(electro shock was the common treatment)

In some cases they've spilt the mans hippocampus and he's recovered using other learned skills.

Anyway this particular case is interesting for the effects it caused. Look the guy up on youtube I believe it is the same man mentioned here.

The reason these surgeries are done is simply a risk assesment.

Either live bouncing off the walls in a mental instituition, go home and inevitably DIE within a week or have the surgery done. It's not a case of butchery it's a case of simply not having any other choice.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:31 am UTC
by CorruptUser
Dark Knight Bob wrote:This kind of thing is not done by some kind of imaginary frank-stein surgeons anymore. This was done back in 1950 odd

This is no longer 1950 though, where we now know what epilepsy is.


We may know more than we did in the 1950's, but keep in mind that it wasn't until 1992 that it became common practice to give babies anaesthesia.

The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment didn't end until 1972. Oh, and you probably didn't hear too much of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which was sterilizing people up until 1973. Then there is the Holmesburg Prison experiments that ended in 1974.

The early 70s apparently were an important time for human rights in the US...

Anyway, the people of the 50's and 60's probably weren't immediately aware of the horrific experiments going on until years after they ended, which is why these cases which started then didn't end until the early 70s. Any horrific experiments we are currently doing will probably not be publicly know until years from now.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:28 am UTC
by Tree333
After reading an article at New Yorker, I felt really sorry for Mr. Molaison.. I wonder whether Dr. Corkin said that she received Molaison's permission to extract his brain after his death but I wonder how he could give really truly meaningful permission given his illness - according to my reading from New Yorker, he cannot reflect what he did more than 30 seconds. I felt really sorry for Mr. Molaison. He gained permanent brain damage due to the stupid Dr. Scoville and had been used by Dr. Corkin for his lifetime.. I think some scientist merely pursue their studies for their own fame or public good and do not care about one's right to life.. Also, I wonder whether Mr. Molaison or his family has received any compensation from the doctors. :shock:

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:54 pm UTC
by Dark Avorian
Memento, not Momento. I'm surprised only one person caught this.

Re: The brain of Henry Molaison, the Momento Man

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:44 pm UTC
by Yoshisummons
First off I feel bad for noticing this thread was made three years ago after reading it all. Also, why was this mentioned in the New Yorker recently? Exempting the hindsight bias I find it hard to pass harsh judgement on the doctor for poor experimental methodology when only 15% of doctors get the following problem right, Yes really, while typing this post I can't help but feel icky putting so much pressure on doctors but that's a whole different topic.
Spoiler:
1% of women at age forty who participate in routine screening have breast cancer. 80% of women with breast cancer will get positive mammographies. 9.6% of women without breast cancer will also get positive mammographies. A woman in this age group had a positive mammography in a routine screening. What is the probability that she actually has breast cancer? Here's the answer


The answer for the exceptionally bored.
Spoiler:
7.8%